This weekend I had to counsel two men who were caught in sexual immorality. It is one of those moments that I dread being in a leadership role. So many people were hurt by these two guys sins. Families were hurt, parents embarrassed, friends hurt and in both case, destinies are shattered, and huge webs of deception had been put up by the perpetrators trying to cover their sins. It never makes sense to hide sins; I don’t know why people still try to hide. It never works and when it is uncovered, the consequences are always much worse. In both cases, the unmarried men had joined into sin with willing girls.
Both of these men I consider close friends. They are both young, only 19 years old, and clearly foolish. I am sure they could not imagine the consequences of what they would do. I met with them individually, then with the girls involved, and then with their families. None of it was easy. Both situations which these men were caught in were very similar, but their responses were very different. One refused to say anything. When he was caught his first response was to run away. Even though all the evidence was against him (including a pregnant girl) he thought that “pleading the fifth” (self-incrimination) would somehow protect him and his reputation. Everyone knew he was guilty. He knew he was guilty. Yet, he refused to apologize, he refused to take reasonability, and he refused to even acknowledge the pain he had caused to those around him.
The second young man knew when he was caught. Immediately he broke into tears and wept for what he had done. He took the first opportunity to apologize to those in leadership around him for the pain he had caused. When he confessed in the evening, the very next morning he made the toughest journey of his life; he went to ask forgiveness of the parents of the girl and was prepared to do whatever they wanted him to do. He showed reasonability for his actions. The response of the parents (Christian leaders themselves) was strong and decisive. There was anger, there was disappointment, but there was also forgiveness).
The first young man has broken relationship with nearly everyone around him. His family is forcing him to be married on Thursday in which no guests will be invited apart from the immediate family. They are so ashamed of him; they want to keep it a quite affair. He remains defensive and shows no signs of repentance. His consequences will be harsh. Come Thursday he starts his new married life with no job, no house and no money what-so-ever. The only family possessions (a motorcycle and a pig) will be sold to pay for the wedding expenses. The consequences will be harsh and long lasting.
The second young man will have consequences too, but because he took responsibility for his actions and sought to do the proper thing he will have a much softer landing. Both his parents and his in-laws want him to finish school first so he can get a good job to care for wife-to-be. His girl friend is being sent away to a remote area of Cambodia as to not bring shame to the family, nor to the body of Christ. There she can finish school as well. He promises to be faithful to her and prepare for married life. He also has to get a job, finish school and find a place to stay. He, however, has been given a period of grace. This only happened because of his response to his sin.
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). I hope both young men will repent. I love both of them and have been involved in their lives since they came to Christ many years ago. It hurts me deeply to think of the choices they have made which are clearly going to adversely affect their futures.
Having been in leadership for many years now I have observed hundreds of people who fall into sin and I always counsel them to confess their sins, repent, make restitution and seek God. It is amazing to me how many continue with their rebellion and do not repent. God has no choice but to allow them to continue down the path they have chosen. With a few years they have gone so far from the Lord they become unrecognizable as “Christians”. These people fade away. They destroy their own lives. They are useless to God’s purposes.
Once in a while I see sinners realize their sin and express grief. They make every effort to be responsible for their actions. They face serious consequences, but their “fall” is not nearly as hard as those who remain in rebellion. If they continue in repentance and seek God with all their heart, they can become useful to God again. Certainly it can take years to rebuild the trust they lost because of their actions.
Let the lives of these two young men be a lesson to us all to confess our sins (no matter how big or small), take responsibility, give restitution and be restored to Christ. It is the best way; it is God’s way.